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Mina Loy

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Harry Smith

on 9 October 2014

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Transcript of Mina Loy

MINA LOY
How do Mina Loy's poems
reflect the key concepts set out in her Feminist Manifesto?
An in depth analysis of the relationship between
'Feminist Manifesto' and 'Human Cylinders'
Mina Loy's Feminist Manifesto
Women if you want to realize yourselves-you are on the eve of a devastating psychological upheaval-all your pet illusions must be unmasked—the lies of centuries have got to go—are you prepared for the Wrench–? There is no half-measure—NO scratching on the surface of the rubbish heap of tradition, will bring about Reform, the only method is Absolute Demolition

Cease to place your confidence in economic legislation, vise-crusades & uniform education-you are glossing over Reality.

Professional & commercial careers are opening up for you—
Is that all you want?

And if you honestly desire to find your level without prejudice—be Brave & deny at the outset—that pathetic clap-trap war cry Woman is the equal of man-
For
She is NOT

The man who lives a life in which his activities conform to a social code which is protectorate of the feminine element—–is no longer masculine

The women who adapt themselves to a theoretical valuation of their sex as a relative impersonality, are not yet Feminine

Leave off looking to men to find out what you are not —–seek within yourselves to find out what you are

As conditions are at present constituted—you have the choice between Parasitism, & Prostitution —-or Negation

Men & women are enemies, with the enmity of the exploited for the parasite, the parasite for the exploited—at present they re at the mercy of the advantage that each can take the others sexual dependence—-. The only point at which the interests of the sexes merge—is the sexual embrace.

The first illusion it is to your interest to demolish of women into two classes the mistress, & the mother every well-balanced & developed woman knows that is not true. Nature has endowed the complete functions—-there are no restrictions on the woman who is so incompletely evolved as to be un-self-conscious in sex, will prove a restrictive influence on the temperamental expansion of the next generation; the woman who is a poor mistress will be an incompetent mother—an inferior mentality—& will enjoy an inadequate apprehension of Life.

To obtain results you must make sacrifices & the first and greatest sacrifice you have to make is of your ”virtue”

The fictitious value of a woman as identified with her physical purity—is too easy to stand-by—rendering her lethargic in the acquisition of intrinsic merits of character by which she could obtain a concrete value—-therefore, the fist self-enforced law for the female sex, as a protection of the man made bogey of virtue—which is the principal instrument of her subjection, would be the unconditional surgical destruction of virginity through-out the female population at puberty—-.

The value of man is assessed entirely according to his use or interest to the community, the value of woman depends entirely on chance, her success or in success in maneuvering a man into taking the life-long responsibility of her—

The advantages of marriage are too ridiculously ample—
Compared to all other trades—for under modern conditions a woman can accept preposterously luxurious support from a man (with-out the return of an sort—even offspring)—as a thank offering for her virginity.

The woman who has not succeeded in striking that advantageous bargain—-is prohibited from any but surreptitious re-action to Life-stimuli—-&entirely debarred maternity.
Every woman has a right to maternity—-

Every woman of superior intelligence should realize her race-responsibility, in producing children in adequate proportion to the unfit or degenerate members of her sex—-

Each child of a superior woman should be the result of a definite period of psychic development in her life—-& and not necessarily of a possible irksome & outworn continuance of an alliance—spontaneously adapted for vital creation n the beginning but not necessarily harmoniously balanced as evolution.

For the harmony of race, each individual should be the expression of an easy & ample interpenetration of the male & female temperaments—free of stress
Woman must become more responsible for the child than man—-
Woman must destroy in themselves, the desire to be loved—

The feeling that it is a personal insult when a man transfers his attention from her to another woman

The desire for comfortable protection instead of an intelligent curiosity & courage in meeting & resisting the pressure of life sex or so called love must be reduced to its initial element, honor, grief, sentimentality, pride and & consequently jealousy must be detached from it.
Woman for her happiness must retain her deceptive fragility of appearance, combined with indomitable will, irreducible courage, & abundant health the outcome of sound nerves—
Another great illusion is that woman must use all her introspective and clear-sightedness & unbiased bravery to destroy—for the sake of her self respect is the impurity of sex the realization in defiance of superstition that there is nothing impure in sex—except in the mental attitude to it—will constitute an incalculable & wider social regeneration than it is possible for our generation to imagine.
"Women if you want to realize yourselves - you are on the eve of a devastating psychological upheaval - all your pet illusions must be unmasked— the lies of centuries have got to go — are you prepared for the Wrench–? There is no half-measure — NO scratching on the surface of the rubbish heap of tradition, will bring about Reform, the only method is Absolute Demolition"

True Feminism is extremely difficult to achieve
It is not something that can be built upon the past
Women must start afresh and build a new future
"And if you honestly desire to find your level without prejudice—be Brave & deny at the outset—that pathetic clap-trap war cry Woman is the equal of man-
For
She is NOT"

The attempts of Feminists have so far been in vain. They have failed to make any true progress
Women are being fed a lie that they are now equal. They are not
This is why women must start afresh with their push for freedom and equality
"The man who lives a life in which his activities conform to a social code which is protectorate of the feminine element—–is no longer masculine

The women who adapt themselves to a theoretical valuation of their sex as a relative impersonality, are not yet Feminine"

Men that support Feminism are seen to be weak and emasculate
Women that fall in line with men's ideas of women are not real women
"Leave off looking to men to find out what you are not —–seek within yourselves to find out what you are"

Women must not allow men to tell them what they can or can not be
Women must discover for themselves what true equality is and take it
"To obtain results you must make sacrifices & the first and greatest sacrifice you have to make is of your 'virtue'"

Women must not allow themselves to become objects
To do so, they must sacrifice their 'virtue'
Only then may men see them as a person
"Every woman of superior intelligence should realize her race-responsibility, in producing children in adequate proportion to the unfit or degenerate members of her sex—-"

Women do have a duty to have children
The object of this is ensure the next generation is one that supports and understands true feminism
"Each child of a superior woman should be the result of a definite period of psychic development in her life—-& and not necessarily of a possible irksome & outworn continuance of an alliance—spontaneously adapted for vital creation n the beginning but not necessarily harmoniously balanced as evolution."

However, these children need not be the product of a stale, unprofitable marriage
Women should not be tied to one man
"Woman must become more responsible for the child than man—-
Woman must destroy in themselves, the desire to be loved—"

Being an object in the eyes of men is harmful to the progress and success of Feminism
It is crucial to reject notions of 'love' in order to achieve true Feminism
Human Cylinders
The human cylinders
Revolving in the enervating dusk
That wraps each closer in the mystery
Of singularity
Among the litter of a sunless afternoon
Having eaten without tasting
Talked without communion
And at least two of us
Loved a very little
Without seeking
To know if our two miseries
In the lucid rush-together of automatons
Could form one opulent wellbeing

Simplifications of men
In the enervating dusk
Your indistinctness
Serves me the core of the kernel of you
When in the frenzied reaching out of intellect to intellect
Leaning brow to brow communicative
Over the abyss of the potential
Concordance of respiration
Shames
Absence of corresponding between the verbal sensory
And reciprocity
Of conception
And expression
Where each extrudes beyond the tangible
One thin pale trail of speculation
From among us we have sent out
Into the enervating dusk
One little whining beast
Whose longing
Is to slink back to antediluvian burrow
And one elastic tentacle of intuition
To quiver among the stars

The impartiality of the absolute
Routs the polemic
Or which of us
Would not
Receiving the holy-ghost
Catch it and caging
Lose it
Or in the problematic
Destroy the Universe
With a solution
Mina Loy sets out a dull, bleak status-quo
Comparable to her manifesto's claims that Feminism so far has been unsuccessful. Nothing has changed, women are subject to the same oppression as before
Men are trying to tell women what Feminism is and what they should settle for in order to preserve the status-quo
Several interpretations to this section

One refers again to the failures of Feminism to date
Despite women's best efforts, they are still seen as "one little whining beast whose longing is to slink back to antediluvian burrow"

A second recalls Loy's claims that men who support Feminism are weak and emasculate.
They fear to be seen supporting women and "quiver among the stars"

The third interpretation takes the previous statements in a different light and relates to Loy's views on raising children.
The next generation presents a fork in the road.
They will either support true Feminism and shine as a brilliant example of humankind - "...one elastic tentacle of intuition to quiver among the stars"
Or they will revert to the past and fail the efforts of today's Feminists - "one little whining beast who longing is to slink back to antediluvian burrow"
This is why Loy sees it as imperative to have children, and educate them in the ways of true Feminism
Here Loy reaffirms the point that carrying out true Feminism is not easy in any way
The solution is complicated, controversial and would "destroy the Universe" as we know it
What has been done so far for Feminism is not enough
Women must fight for female equality on their own terms, not those set out by men
Raising a generation of children accepting of women as equal to men is vital
No woman can be a true Feminist while she is still seen as an object by men
Conclusion
Mina Loy was a determined, radical Feminist as well as a talented poet
She employed her poetic and artistic skills to spread the aims and arguments set out in her Feminist Manifesto
'Human Cylinders' acts as a prime example of the Feminist meanings behind Loy's poetry
Respondent:
How was Loy’s individualism a crucial element to her art and poetry?

How did her ethic of the individual contribute to and continue to form her mixed critical reception?


by Pascale Robinson
The Feminist Manifesto:



"Leave off looking to men to find out what you are not —–seek within yourselves to find out what you are"

"Careers... is that all you want?"



A silver Lucifer
serves
cocaine in cornucopia

To some somnambulists
of adolescent
thighs
draped
in satirical draperies

Peris in livery
prepare
Lethe
for posthumous parvenues

Delirious Avenues
lit
with the
chandelier souls
of infusoria
from Pharoah’s tombstones



A flock of dreams
browse on Necropolis

From the shores
of oval oceans
in the oxidized Orient

Onyx-eyed Odalisques
and ornithologists
observe
the
flight
of Eros obsolete

And “Immortality”
mildews ...
in the museums of the moon

“Nocturnal cyclops”
“Crystal concubine”

Pocked with personification
the fossil virgin of the skies
waxes and wanes
lead
to mercurial doomsdays
Odious oasis
in furrowed phosphorous

the eye-
white sky-light
white-light district
of lunar lusts

Stellectric signs
“Wing shows on Starway”
“Zodiac carrousel”

Cyclones
of ecstatic dust
and ashes whirl
crusaders
from hallucinatory citadels
of shattered glass
into evacuate craters

Lunar Baedeker
By Mina Loy
Surreal Scene, Collage and Gouache, Mina Loy, 1930
lead
to mercurial doomsdays
Odious oasis
in furrowed phosphorous

the eye-white sky-light
white-light district
of lunar lusts

Stellectric signs
“Wing shows on Starway”
“Zodiac carrousel”

Cyclones
of ecstatic dust
and ashes whirl
crusaders
from hallucinatory citadels
of shattered glass
into evacuate craters
Lunar Baedecker, Mina Loy
Conclusion:
Andre Raffray, Marcel Duchamp: La vie illustrée, 1984
Chez Arensberg (from left to right: Joseph Stella [guitar in hand], Beatrice Wood [seated in armchair], Edgard Varèse [at the piano], Arthur Cravan, Mina Loy, Elmer Ernest Southard, Albert Gleizes, Juliette Roche, Louise Arensberg, Walter Arensberg, Marcel Duchamp,
Francis Picabia and Henri-Pierre Roché [playing chess], Gabrielle-Buffet Picabia, John Covert [before the fireplace], Man Ray, Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven), New York 1917.
Gouache and tempera on paper, 15 x 28 inches
Her work did not fit into any category
Her feminism was not supported by suffragettes
Her defiance of gender roles allowed many to place Her in the box of feminist writer.
In using futurist language, many have seen her as a futurist who wasn’t even accepted into the movement because of its misogyny.

Many Scholars agree that in refusing to deny her subjectivity, she went against the modernist ideal of an invisible neutral commentator.

Continuing on from this,
Many have cited unease with her experimentation with language,
Her refusal to pick one genre,
Her positions in several modernist movements as further reasons why she was overlooked to an extent.

She did not create a ‘career’ in any one of her pursuits, which modernists were increasingly required to do.

Comparison of works :

seeming lack of structure
disjointed lines and
fragmented language
woman who appears to be the centrepiece to a Duchamp piece, deflecting rays of light from a 'cupid-like character'
symbols of fertility include
wheat, daisies and seeds
note how the register, including dismembered limbs and a decapitated sculpture,
cuts her off at the neck
Full transcript